Vegetables, verandas and the magic Vegemite jar

A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties

Vegetables

We had a large vegetable garden with beans, carrots, turnips, swedes, onions, potatoes and pumpkins. In summer there were watermelons, strawberries, tomatoes, beetroot and lettuce. As the pumpkin vine spread, we would look for those that grew hidden under the large leaves. The pumpkins were a large blue variety that kept well for months on end. They were stored on the tank stand just at the edge of the back veranda. Onions and potatoes were picked and bagged and stored underneath the concrete tank stand in the cool dark space. Thinning the carrots was a favourite task as we got to eat the tiny sweet ones fresh from the garden. We ate potatoes and pumpkin and a third vegetable with our meat most nights. Vegetable soups warmed our winters.

Verandas

Our house had three verandas. At the front of the house was the red polished concrete veranda surrounded by a low wall ideal for seating. Mum was very proud of her front veranda and the job of polishing it usually fell to her children. It was a down on the hands and knees job for many years before the advent of an upright electric polisher. She was happy for us to slide up and down on the veranda on rags as this kept it shiny. In later years, three of my sisters left the house through the front door for their weddings and had photos taken on that veranda.

The back and side verandas were the functional spaces. At the back door, an old cedar sofa was the ideal place to sit and remove muddy boots and shoes. Cats and dogs made that sofa their home too. Easy access to the wood box, the water heater, and an old meat safe meant this was a functional space. It was also a good place to play in inclement weather as it continued around to a side veranda that bordered the tennis court. Two lines stretched across the side veranda for hanging the washing in wet weather. In hot weather, water was cooled by evaporation from a canvas water bag, it swung on the line under the shade of the veranda. Another lidded box seat at the end of the side veranda had tennis racquets and the net stored in it.

The magic Vegemite jar

Many Australian children grow up eating vegemite on their toast or in their sandwiches. We were no exception and often on meatless Fridays we had vegemite sandwiches for school lunches. Vegemite is a rich, strongly flavoured yeast extract spread.

Each year in August we went to the Royal Adelaide Show for our big day out. One year I got a show bag that had a small jar of honey and a small jar of vegemite along with promotional material. I had not seen tiny jars like this and was excited to be allowed to use them at breakfast time. Each morning I would find the jars were once again full.  It took me a long time to realise that Mum was refilling the small jars as they emptied, she had me convinced that I had a magic honey and magic vegemite jar!

vegemite
1958 'Advertising', The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982),
5 February, p. 44. , viewed 22 Apr 2017,
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article51599289
In 1954 as part of an advertising campaign, this catchy radio jingle for Vegemite was launched

We’re happy little Vegemites as bright as bright can be,
We all enjoy our Vegemite for breakfast, lunch and tea,
Our mummy says we’re growing stronger every single week,
Because we love our Vegemite,
We all adore our Vegemite,
It puts a rose in every cheek!

Sing along or enjoy listening to this 30-second clip – courtesy of the ASO https://aso.gov.au/titles/ads/happy-little-vegemites/clip1/


18 comments:

  1. Sounds lovely. and a much healthier lifestyle than most kids have today. Loved the bit about your mother refilling your Vegemite and honey mini-jars, convincing you that they were magic. Such a universal mum- thing to do! :)

    Best wishes,
    Nilanjana
    Madly-in-Verse

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    1. Mothers work magic when we look back on the things they did for us as children.

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  2. Wonderful childhood memories. Unfortunately we didn't have the verhandahs but everything else sounds about right.

    Dropping by from the A to Z Challenge.
    Sandra, Aspiring family historian, fellow participant in the #AtoZchallenge
    Sandra's Ancestral Research Journal http://ancestralresearchjournal.blogspot.com.au/

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  3. Our winter freezer has a good supply of pumpkin soup for work lunches. Ours is made of those pumpkins you describe. Great post. Visiting from A - Z Challenge :) Linda

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    1. Great taste but hard to chop up and peel with those thick skins. Now I love pumpkin however it is cooked but definitely did not like it when I was a child.

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  4. Your childhood verandas sound wonderful. I've always wished for a home with a nice wrap-around porch or verandas like you describe. I've never tasted vegemite, but what fun to have a magic jar. Sometimes I think our generation would do much better nutritionally if everyone still grew their own vegetables. I know that many do, but so many others rely on very processed foods. Thanks for your post!

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    1. Now we have passionfruit, limes and sometimes tomatoes in our garden but are able to buy good fresh vegetables so they are still the greater part of our daily menu.

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  5. Hi Carmel - veggies ... like you we were so lucky to have fresh veg and fruit growing in a reasonably large garden - not a farm granted! We had one veranda - but it wasn't an English thing ... while vegemite - being English and a lover of Marmite - I'd go with Marmite.

    Those bags of goodies that were given out, or as in our case I think adverts responded to by my parents ... lots of new products would arrive in tiny packets for trial purposes ... the one I remember was Signal toothpaste - a white core with three coloured lines running up the core ... to a kid - it was interesting!!

    Cheers Hilary ..

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/v-is-for-vaynol-cattle.html

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    1. The stripey toothpaste was quite a trend for a while, I can't imagine the colours did much for our teeth! You've reminded me of the endless competitions I used to enter as a child trying to win just about anything.

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  6. I guess most farm houses had more than one porch or veranda. Our side one, like yours, was strictly business -- with a clothes line out to the pine trees and odds and ends of furniture you could sit on to take off your snowy or muddy shoes before coming into the house. Love the bottomless Vegemite jar story! I have to laugh at how easily we were fooled as children :-)

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    1. Father Christmas, being able to 'see' the sleigh twinkling in the sky on the way home from midnight Mass, the Easter Bunny and so much more - the innocence of childhood.

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  7. What wonderful memories. I LOVE the magic Vegemite jar tale - makes me smile. And as the jingle says, puts a rose in my cheek. :-)

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    1. I think I believed it the following year too!

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  8. Each day I think 'this is my favourite', then along comes another... please save all these for at least an eBook. I really don't want this series to end. Love the magic jars...sounds like something my Mum would do...the same Mum who would send us out to see if the fairies were crying if she suspected she wasn't being told the truth. I was mostly sent out mid morning, but my brother early morning, when the fairies' tears could be seen on the nasturtium leaves...
    I'll leave you to work that out... :-)

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    1. Love the fairies idea, clever Mum! I think there were leprechauns at the end of our garden not sure if they were good or naughty wee folk. :-)) Yes I do have all the stories saved elsewhere and hope in time grandchildren (currently all under 5) may enjoy some of them and come to know some things about me.

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  9. Lovely nostalgia! I wrote a nostalgic piece about another jar too! Do drop by!
    http://laksluck.blogspot.in/2017/04/atozchallenge-4-26-2017-letter-v-v-for.html

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    1. I can smell the Vicks vaporub now.

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